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Ola goes the Electric Vehicle way, intends to put 10,000 EVs on road in 12 months

Sindhu Kashyap
posted on 16th April 2018
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Ola, which believes electric vehicles will help the environment and have better outcomes for drivers and customers, has announced Mission: Electric, committing to put over one million electric vehicles on the road by 2021.

A year after Ola, in partnership with Mahindra & Mahindra, launched a programme to build an electric mass mobility ecosystem in Nagpur, the firm is now aiming to expand this across the country. The Bengaluru-based ride-hailing platform announced Mission: Electric, committing to place over 10,000 e-rickshaws and electric auto-rickshaws on the road in the next 12 months. 

The company also increased its commitment to the Nagpur pilot and further expanding its EV fleet to three other Indian cities. The team did not comment on which three cities it is looking to at. The company aims to put over one million electric vehicles on the road by 2021. 

Ola believes that electric vehicles can not only help the environment but can also have better outcomes for drivers, customers, and even help the company’s overall business model. 

The homegrown unicorn will work closely with different city corporations, driver partners, vehicle manufacturers,  and battery companies to make sustainable technologies cost-effective and viable for daily commute. The idea is to bring cleaner, more comfortable, and safer products to market.   

Bhavish Aggarwal, CEO and Co-founder, Ola, at the launch of the EV project in Nagpur

Ola is believed to already be in talks with several state governments, OEM (original equipment manufacturers), and EV innovators across the globe. 

In Nagpur, Ola’s electric vehicle project was inaugurated by Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister of Maharashtra, and Nitin Gadkari, Honourable Union Minister of Road Transport, Highways and Shipping. 

The project included electric cabs, electric auto rickshaws, electric buses, rooftop solar installations, charging stations, and battery swapping experiments. Bhavish Aggarwal, Co-founder and CEO , Ola, said: 

“After more than 4 million electric kilometres travelled and many lessons learned, we are significantly expanding our commitment to electrify mobility in India.  Ola leads by example, and we look forward to working with state governments and other partners to introduce accessible, affordable, and sustainable mobility solutions at scale.”

Bhavish says three-wheelers are a vital means of transportation and a source of livelihood for millions. He adds that this also represent an immediate opportunity to improve outcomes for all stakeholders while reducing pollution across towns and cities.

The currently operational city EV programme in Nagpur has provided Ola with insights into managing vehicles, batteries, and other operations. The company plans to continue its experimentation with ways to optimise batteries and charging, to develop a strong business model for EV deployment in the country.  Last May, media reports had suggested that Ola was headed the electric car way, or at least that its lead investor—SoftBank—was bullish about the electric car market in India. 

Revolutionising public transport

The reports suggested that the Indian government was already in talks with SoftBank for low-interest funding of about 2 lakh electric buses to be deployed in public transport. As a part of the Maharashtra deal, e-cabs, e-buses, e-rickshaws, and e-autos will all be brought on one platform. 

Masayoshi Son, CEO, SoftBank, had told Mint that Ola would deploy a million electric vehicles in the next five years in partnership with a carmaker and the government. The Nagpur project seems to be the first step in that direction. 

In the cab market is Lithium Cabs, which uses only Mahindra EON vehicles, but for B2B use. They believe that the large-scale adoption of electric vehicles can bring the monumental change we need. Apart from Lithium, there also is Zoomcar, which also has tied up with Mahindra and Mahindra for the rental of Electric Vehicles. There also are startups like SmartE in the e-rickshaw space. 

Currently, Delhi seems to be a thriving hub for e-rickshaws. According to a report by Centre of Civil Society, between April 2013 to March 2017 the number of registered e-rickshaws in the city was at 29,123, but the number of unregistered vehicles was more than a lakh.

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